With the Fantasy playoffs just weeks away in most leagues, owners are looking for every possible edge to put their teams in the best position when the postseason rolls around. In some cases that means taking a flier on a player who has been hard to rely on for the most of the year, but who now seems to be heating up at just the right time. This is just one of the reasons we like Marcus Thornton as our start of the week for owners in Rotisserie formats heading into Fantasy Week 19 (March 3-10). Thornton got off to a decent start this season, but really started to struggle in December as he was dealing with personal issues that ultimately led to him taking a leave of absence. He then missed a big chunk of games in early January thanks to a sprained ankle and struggled to regain his form once he finally returned to the lineup.
However, things have started to click for Thornton of late and he is finally starting to become an asset for Fantasy owners once again instead of a liability. Entering Sunday's matchup at Charlotte, Thornton had scored in double figures in seven of his last nine games and was averaging 17.7 points on 48.5 percent shooting from the field over that stretch. He is giving owners 2.9 made 3-pointers during his hot streak and has scored 20-plus points in each of his last three games, including dropping in a season-high 36 points with eight treys against the Heat last week. While Thornton is bound to cool back down – at least a little bit – eventually, he looks to have some favorable matchups on tap in the upcoming scoring period.
Thornton's recent red-hot shooting from downtown should come in handy this week as the Nuggets and Suns both rank near of the bottom of the pack when it comes to defending the 3-point line – especially on the road—which is where both matchups will take place. While the Warriors are actually ranked in the top five in opposition 3-point field-goal percentage, Thornton has thrived against Golden State this season. He dropped in 19 and 16 points, respectively in his two earlier meetings against the division rival and connected on 7 of his 18 attempts from behind the arc in those contests. The 25-year-old has yet to face the Bucks this season, albeit he has averaged 15.2 points in his six career games against Milwaukee, which includes the 27-point effort he posted against them last season.
By now everyone is well aware of Thornton's lack of contributions outside of the scoring and 3-point departments, which limits his value once his shots stop falling. However, his recent upward trend has been too great to ignore – especially with another batch of favorable matchups on the docket. Owners in Rotisserie formats should take advantage and get Thornton active now that he is finally starting to live up to expectations.
Find a place for 'em
Ray Allen, G, Heat (@MIN, ORL, PHI, IND): After enduring a dreadful shooting slump back in early February, Allen has finally regained his shooting touch for the Heat. Entering Sunday's matchup at New York, Allen had scored in double-digits in each of his last eight games and was averaging 13.4 points over that span on 46.9 percent shooting from the field. The veteran has been especially effective from downtown during his run as he is giving owners 2.6 made treys per game and has connected on 14 of his last 24 (58.3 percent) attempts from downtown. Allen now looks to have some favorable matchups on tap in Week 19, which should allow him to at least maintain his productive ways. He dropped in 17 points during his lone matchup against the Magic earlier in the year before connecting on 4 of his 6 attempts against Philadelphia a few weeks back. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, are surrendering 107.2 points per game during their five-game losing streak, and while Allen has been shut out in each of his first two matchups against the Pacers this year, we don't see that happening a third time. Owners looking for a boost in 3-pointers this week should consider rolling with Allen. (owned in 48 percent of leagues)
Devin Harris, G, Hawks(@DEN, PHI, @BOS, BKN): Harris was expected to take on a larger role for the Hawks when Lou Williams first went down with a torn ACL, but an ankle injury has prevented that from happening. Harris first sprained his left ankle back on January 19, and it has been giving him fits ever since. In fact, Harris has missed four of Atlanta's last 17 games due to his injury and it was bothering him so much that coach Larry Drew had to restrict his minutes leading up to the All-Star break. However, the 30-year-old was able to get himself healthy over the break and he has been much more efficient since the start of the second half. Harris has scored in double figures in each of his last five contests and is averaging 13.2 points on 52.5 percent shooting from the field over that span to go along with 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals. He is seeing about 25 minutes per game during his recent hot streak and has been especially hot from downtown as he has connected 11 of his last 18 of his shots (61 percent) from behind the arc. Harris' recent hot hand from 3-point land should come in handy this week as both the Nets and Nuggets rank near the bottom of the pack in opposition 3-point percentage. While that is not the case with the Celtics and 76ers, Harris already posted a 14-3-2 stat line in his lone meeting with Boston this season and is averaging 15.5 points, 4.0 assists and 2.3 rebounds in his last four meetings against Philly. Owners in deeper category-based formats should consider rolling with Harris at one of the guard spots this week. (owned in 29 percent of leagues)
Carlos Delfino, F, Rockets (@DAL, @GS, @PHO):Delfino found himself in the starting lineup for a few games once the team sent Patrick Patterson to the Kings and he responded by averaging 11.5 points, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals over his four games as a starter. However, coach Kevin McHale decided to change things up and insert Donatas Motiejunas into the starting lineup. That resulted in Delfino getting moved back to the bench, which prompted a collective groan from all of his Fantasy owners. However, things nearly aren't as dire as they seem when it comes to Delfino's move back into a reserve role. The 30-year-old still logged 28-plus minutes in each of his last two games entering Sunday's tilt against the Mavericks, including in Houston's win over the Magic last Friday when he poured in 21 points with five made treys. That trend is expected to continue moving forward, which should give Delfino plenty of chances to continue his hot shooting from behind the arc. The veteran is averaging 3.8 made 3-pointers over his last five games, which bodes well for owners considering his Week 19 opponents. The Warriors are allowing 8.0 made 3s per game – the fourth most in the league – while the Mavericks are allowing 7.9 per contest. The Suns are only surrendering 6.6 made treys per tilt, but are allowing opponents to connect on 38.7 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which ranks dead last. Despite getting moved back to the bench, Delfino can still be considered a viable start in the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 52 percent of leagues)
Carl Landry, F, Warriors (TOR, SAC, HOU, MIL): While the return of Andrew Bogut seemed to help the Warriors, it did not help out Landry or his Fantasy owners. Landry's minutes and production both took a hit when Bogut was back in the lineup, which is a big reason the 29-year-old averaged a season-low 9.9 points and 5.7 rebounds during the month of February. However, with Bogut now sidelined indefinitely with more back troubles, Landry has been able to get himself back on track. The sixth-year forward has scored in double figures in each of his last seven games (all with Bogut out) and is averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds over that stretch on 57.7 percent shooting from the field. He has been seeing around 25 minutes per game as well during his most recent run and with Bogut not expected back anytime soon, that trend should continue in Week 19. That should at least allow Landry to maintain his current production – if not surpass it -- as he has fared well against some of the Warriors' upcoming opponents. In fact, Landry finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds against the Bucks back in January, and has posted some respectable stat lines against the Rockets and Kings this season as well. Owners could do a lot worse than choosing to use Landry this week.(owned in 56 percent of leagues)
JaVale McGee, C, Nuggets (ATL, @SAC, LAC, MIN): McGee is putting together the most efficient offensive season of his career with the Nuggets this year, but his lack of playing time has led to his scoring and rebounding numbers taking a hit. The 25-year-old continues to see around 18-20 minutes most nights, which makes it hard for him to consistently get his numbers. That, in turn, makes it hard for Fantasy owners to leave him active for long stretches of time – evidenced by the fact that he is only active in 23 percent of all CBSSports.com standard leagues that he is owned in. However, the NBA is all about matchups and McGee has a few this week that seem to favor getting him active. First up for the Nuggets this week is the Hawks, who have one of the bigger front lines in the game with Al Horford and Josh Smith lurking in the paint. McGee logged 24 minutes the first two times these two teams matched up and we would expect that to be the case once again as coach George Karl will likely count on his length to slow down Atlanta's interior attack. The fifth-year center has averaged 15.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his two meetings against the Kings this season, while posting a respectable 10 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in two games against the Clippers. While he struggled in his earlier meetings against the Timberwolves, McGee will be facing a Minnesota team who will be without the services of Kevin Love and possibly even Nikola Pekovic this time around – which was not the case in the first three meetings. Despite his up-and-down production, McGee looks like a solid play at center this week.(owned in 63 percent of leagues)
Put 'em on your bench
Eric Maynor, G, Trail Blazers (CHA, @MEM, @SA, @NO): Maynor has been a Fantasy afterthought for most of his career, but his landing out in Portland with the Trail Blazers may be what he needed to get himself on track. Portland boasts one of the shallowest benches in the league, which should allow Maynor to see the minutes he never received while playing in Oklahoma City. In fact, the 31 minutes in logged in the Trail Blazers' win over the Timberwolves last Saturday night was a season high for the 25-year-old and he responded by dishing out a career-best 12 assists. While more minutes usually results in greater production, Maynor has yet to prove he can consistently score in this league. He has scored in double figures in just 17 of his 212 career games and has never shot better than 41 percent from the field during his first three-plus years in the league. Despite the promise of seeing an increased role and playing time with the Blazers, owners should take a wait-and-see approach with Maynor right now. Wait and see how he fits in with his new team before getting him active. (owned in one percent of leagues)
Nick Young, G, 76ers (BOS, @ATL, @MIA, @ORL): Young aka -- Swaggy P -- stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Jason Richardson a few weeks back and saw his production take off as a result. Young came out of the gates firing as he scored in double figures in eight of his first 11 games as a starter and averaged 15.3 points per game over that stretch on 43.7 percent shooting from the field. However, just as he has numerous times throughout his career, Young went cold over the past two weeks. The 27-year-old scored a combined eight points over his last three games while connected on just two of his last 16 attempts. He went just one for his last six from downtown before an ankle injury forced him out of the lineup. Young has now missed each of Philadelphia's last two games with his injury, which combined with his recent cold streak, makes him an extremely risky start heading into the upcoming scoring period. While the 76ers play four times this week, owners should seek out a healthier more productive alternative.(owned in 41 percent of leagues)
Charlie Villanueva, F, Pistons (NY, DAL, @LAC): When Andre Drummond went down with a back injury, Villanueva was called upon to take on a larger roll. The veteran got off to a great start as he averaged 11.4 points over his first five games in Drummond's absence, but has since fallen back off the wagon. In fact, Villanueva has failed to score in double figures in each of his last seven games and is averaging just three points over that span. He is shooting a whopping 17.9 percent from the field during his downward trend and has been so bad, coach Lawrence Frank has started to bench him in favor of Jonas Jerebko. This is nothing new for Villanueva, who has been one of the notoriously streaky shooters throughout his career. When he is on, Villanueva's ability to score and knock down 3s makes can be a real asset for Fantasy owners. However, when he is off, he is off and turns into a major liability. Fantasy owners should make sure to leave Villanueva planted on the bench while he is off.(owned in seven percent of leagues)
Patrick Patterson, F, Kings, (DEN, @GS, PHO, MIL): Patterson was putting together his best season as a pro with the Rockets this season as he was averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds over his first 47 games. However, the 23-year-old's Fantasy value took a major blow when he was dealt to the Kings at the trade deadline a few weeks ago. Patterson went from Houston's starting power forward to merely a reserve option with the Kings, where has averaged just 15.8 minutes during his first five games with Sacramento. Most of his minutes have come in garbage time as each of the Kings' last three games have been decided by 25-plus points. While the jury is still out on how coach Keith Smart will use Patterson, it doesn't look like he will be a big part of the rotation right now. Despite the Kings playing four times in the upcoming scoring period, owners should leave Patterson on the bench for at least another week.(owned in 38 percent of leagues)
Samuel Dalembert, C, Bucks, (UTA, @LAC, @GS, @SAC): After seeing a nice boost in playing time and production a few weeks back, Dalembert has gone back to being one of the last men off the bench for the Bucks. The 31-year-old endured his most productive stretch of the season a few weeks back when he averaged 16.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks, while filling in for the injured Larry Sanders. However, Dalembert has only appeared in three of the five games Sanders has been back in the lineup for and has averaged just 3.0 points and 3.7 rebounds, while seeing 10.7 minutes over that span. Clearly he is on the outside looking in of interim coach Jim Boylan's rotation right now and barring another injury to Sanders, Dalembert may just stay there for the rest of the year. Fantasy owners should once again leave the 10-year veteran firmly planted on the pine heading into Week 19. (owned in 35 percent of leagues)